reFRESHing a Toronto Favourite (Fresh Restaurant Review)

I remember when I first went vegan, whenever I told someone I ate a vegan diet they would always ask me, have you ever been to Fresh? Honestly, how can you be a Toronto vegan if you have never been to Fresh? Are you really vegan if you haven’t taken a picture of your food at Fresh and posted it on Instagram? Fresh has definitely made its mark on the Toronto food scene as one of the first mainstream plant-based restaurants in Toronto. With four locations in the downtown area, many people in Toronto have access to it. As a student who tries to save money, I do no go there too often but I do enjoy stopping by time to time with my sister for dinner or lunch.

Recently Fresh launched their new 2018 menu, with some very exciting new additions, so I had to head over and try a couple of options. Here is the promo video they launched.

Mind you I could not try all the new additions because the menu definitely got a serious upgrade but I thought I will share my thoughts and opinions of the experience and the few options I chose. But first some general ratings.

Basic Ratings

Cost: $$/$$$ (60$ for two people 2 burgers with sides, 1 desert, 1 drink) I would recommend this as a monthly treat not a weekly cheat meal unless you have the coins to spend

Service: 5/5 Food came in good time and was hot

Experience: 4/5 the food was tasty but the prices always set me back

Vegan Friendliness: 6/5 it’s a vegan restaurant so no need to worry about what ingredient is in what

Thoughts on the new menu

My sister and I ordered the Reishi Chocolate Superfood Milkshake, the Flying Cashew Burger and the Chipotle Mushroom Bacon Burger each with a side of dragon fries. We finished our meal with a slice of carrot cake (I believe the cakes are sourced from Sweets From the Earth so I will not be reviewing it)

Reishi Chocolate Milkshake

Reishi Chocolate Milkshake 4/5

This milkshake is made from a coconut ice cream base with dark cacao, cinnamon and sweetened with dates and banana. Overall the milkshake was really good, it was really creamy and in no way tasted like there were mushrooms in there. Yes, mushrooms! Reishi is a mushroom found in many East Asian countries and known for its medicinal value. It made sense why it was put in the milkshake because in the end it was a superfood milkshake. The thing I loved about this milkshake is that it was definitely chocolatey but it was not very rich and dense. It did lose a mark because there were still some unblended banana pieces in the milkshake. Sometimes milkshakes can be very overwhelming with all the sugar and cream but this was good! Too bad it was 10$ 😦

Flying Cashew Burger 3/5

This burger is said to contain “avocado, quick pickled yellow beets, garlic mayo, red cabbage, grated carrot & fresh cashew cheese” as stated on the menu. I had mixed feeling about the burger. It was good in a sense that the different textures in the burger worked well and it did not all turn into mush. The eating experience was not bad. It is a very messy burger because of all the stuff in the burger so it is good that it comes on a big plate. But in my opinion with many components to the burger, certain things get lost. What makes a burger a good burger is the patty. The toppings need to complement the patty and not the other way round. What I found about this burger was that the patty disappears under the mountain of strongly flavoured toppings. The creamy cashew cheese, avocado and garlic mayo have the burger sliding left and right on the bun and falling out from side to side. The patty itself does not stand out to me but the toppings were good. Fresh needs to take a look at the patty and maybe tweek it a bit because it should not get lost under everything. I need to know that the patty is there by taste not only by seeing half of it land on my plate after the avocado, cashew and mayo pushed it out of the bread.

Chipotle Mushroom Bacon Burger

Chipotle Mushroom Bacon Burger 4/5

This burger is said to contain “chipotle mayo, grilled tempeh bacon, mushrooms, tomato, lettuce & alfalfa sprouts” (note: it is not available during brunch) Again just like the Flying Cashew Burger the textures were good but again the patty does not stand out. (they use the same burger patty) The mushrooms and the chipotle mayo were really good because the mayo was well seasoned which is important to me because I need to taste the flavour. The tempeh bacon was a nice salty addition to the burger. Unlike the first burger, this burger held up well within the bun because there were not many sauces and slippery add ons causing the patty to slip and slide.

Dragon Fries 6/5

Okay these were the star of the night! If you like cheese fries, I highly recommend these to you. In my opinion they are much lighter than the poutine sauce on their menu, which I believe is a potato & nutritional yeast based sauce (it gets real thick real quick). The dragon fries contains french fries, miso gravy, hot banana chilies, green onions, hemp seeds & chili oil. The miso gravy was soo good. It had a perfect balance of saltiness, creaminess and it just honestly elevated the fries. SOOOOO GOOD.Their fries are always cooked well so no complaints there. Will highly recommend it

Dragon Fries

So these are a few things I tried at Fresh. I know it is only a few of the things but I have had a lot of the things on their menu, from the salads to the bowls, wraps, burgers and tacos and this was definitely a nice upgrade. I will recommend it if you are willing to spend the coins and not mind bumping elbows with the people sitting next to you. I can’t wait to try other things off this new menu, especially the buffalo cauliflower wings.

I would also like to thank my sister for coming with me and trying all the food with me. Let me know if you guys want me to share more about my experience at Fresh by commenting below!


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